TRIGGER WARNING: Self harm
I DO NOT HAVE AN EATING DISORDER - Page 55
Our bodies store memories in all of the senses, and the smarting of the fresh tattoo wounds triggered some very deep memories of when I’d given myself comfort through self-harm, which at the time represented control for me. Back then, the ultimate satisfaction would come from feeling that pain. I remember once having a toddler jump on my lap unexpectedly (I was a Sunday School teacher) and the sudden jolt opened some recent self-inflicted wounds on my thighs. As I nursed the child in my lap, feeling that fresh pain somehow centred me. I was reminded that I was completely alone in my struggle, but completely in control of it, and that gave me comfort. Somehow the very twisted idea of taking joy in my ‘sick’ habits whilst teaching children about God also made me feel delightfully deviant.
I feel extremely fortunate to have come so far, in that self injury doesn’t play such a significant part in my life anymore, and that I know I am not alone in this struggle. My partner knows all my scars and loves me just the same. And since getting this tattoo, I feel like I have another ‘checkpoint’ to remind me that I’m still in control of my own body.
Also, I am aware that there are song lyrics along these lines, but it really doesn’t matter. I’m certainly not the first person to string these four words together, but they mean something to me, something I need to tell myself every day.
For those who are still struggling with self injury, here are some ‘checkpoint’ techniques you can use when the urge strikes you, if you want to try to calm yourself down without actually self-harming:
- Take some ice, frozen peas etc and apply them quickly to the area where you usually cut. The sudden shock of the cold will sometimes be enough to ground you again, particularly as your skin becomes accustomed to the cold. I find that after a few minutes, taking the cold object away and touching the cold skin with your warm hand can be a wonderful reminder that you are alive
- Similarly, pressing your arms up against a cold window or wall is helpful when having a panic attack. It forces your body to redirect blood flow in response to the sudden cold, and forcibly slows your heart rate.
- Use a red pen or marker to create fake cuts (a ballpoint pen is often good because it simulates the pain of cutting to some extent). If you tend to hit, make ‘bruises’ from paint or ink smudges. Cover yourself as much as you feel you need to. Take the time to care for yourself, look at yourself in the mirror, then take a shower or a bath. Be extremely gentle with yourself as you wash away your scars/bruises, reminding yourself that they are always your choice.
- (picked up from other brilliant Tumblrs) take a photo or draw a full body picture of yourself that you are comfortable with. Make a bunch of photocopies. Use coloured pens to illustrate on the image where you’d like to self harm. Do as much damage as you want, on as many copies as you want, until the urge passes.
- Talk to someone. If you have a support person you can call, great, but even if you don’t, talk to anyone. Go down to the shops and chat to the checkout chick. The act of recognising and understanding language requires the non-emotional part of your brain, which forces you to step out of that emotional core. Similarly, anything that requires a lot of focus with your hands, such as playing an instrument, can have a similar benefit.
Look after yourself, and ask for help when you need it. There are always people who want to listen to us.